By Oliver Lazenby
At the first of three Birch Bay library community input meetings on June 11, attendees were encouraged to dream big. The Whatcom County Library System’s (WCLS) architect for the project, Zervas Architects, led a crowd of about 65 people in brainstorming ideas for the future library’s design.
Attendees created a list of ideas and priorities that included the following:
Maintaining the look of the house on the property; a warm and attractive look with natural light; museum-like, with historical artifacts; ample parking and a big bicycle rack; a large gathering space; shelves on wheels, or spaces that can be flexible; space for kids and child-height fixtures in the bathrooms; a school bus stop; a computer lab and spaces to plug in laptops; semi-private tutoring and studying rooms; picnic area; café, food truck parking, or other affordable food options; and craft space.
WCLS hired Zervas last year to conduct a feasibility study for the property at 7968 Birch Bay Drive, which WCLS purchased from the Vogt family for $675,000 in April 2017. The property has a 2,135-square-foot brown house that would need some work to be able to support bookshelves, and two unfinished shop buildings. WCLS and Zervas Architects said the finished library would be about 6,000 square feet.
The firm analyzed the site for a variety of factors that would affect permitting the project and had a pre-application meeting with Whatcom County.
“We have a fairly good idea of what it will take to develop that property,” Zervas principal Terry Brown said at the meeting. “The next question is for you guys: what’s going to happen on that property?”
Zervas Architects will likely present a potential floor plan for the space at a meeting on Monday, July 16. Not all the ideas from the brainstorm session will fit into the library, Brown said at the meeting.
“Part of how we make decisions is when you put costs to it, some things no longer make sense,” Brown said at the June 11 meeting. “Form follows function and also finance.”
WCLS deputy director Michael Cox was excited that so many people attended the meeting. “I counted 65,” he said. “Our goal was 50 and we thought that was a bit of a stretch goal based on events in other communities.”
People who didn’t make the meeting can provide input online. WCLS plans to launch a web link for gathering ideas this week at wcls.org/birchbay. WCLS also has a Facebook page for library updates that can be found by searching Facebook for Birch Bay Vogt Community Library.
WCLS does not yet know the location of its next Birch Bay library design meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. on July 16. It will hold a final input meeting at 3 p.m. on August 18 at the Vogt property.